How To Fill Those Last Minute Weeks

cottageforrent Hot on the heels of the Globe and Mail article, I got a call from another freelance journalist looking for insights into rising gas prices and how it may (or may not) be affecting cottage rental occupancy this summer. I responded by saying that the impact of this issue shouldn't be taken in isolation. There are other factors that, in combination,  are having a knock-on effect on occupancy levels this year and I know some owners are feeling concerned.

There has been a significant increase in cottages coming on to the rental market this year. Many are properties that have been listed for sale for some time without a sign of a serious buyer. In some cases, fuel prices have forced owners to rethink their usage of the cottage and they've sacrificed a couple of trips to gain a little rental income.

I am sure the weather has played a big role too. We saw a lot of rental activity in the early months of the year with many cottages being fully booked by early March. Since then, interest has been sluggish at times with an occasional burst of frenetic enquiries.  All we need do to forecast a busy day is look out the window and feel the heat. There's nothing like a hot and humid day in the city to get people thinking about the breeze off the lake, and a cold beer on the dock.

So, what do you do if you have some empty weeks and need to get them filled. Here's a few ideas:

Sign up with CottageLINK and advertise on the last minute list.

This is a popular list, but you do need to be an advertiser to get your last minute rental listing posted. Listing for the first year is around $60 and this reduces by $20 in subsequent years. There is a small additional fee for inclusion on the last minute list, but with the amount of visitors this site gets, it is a worthwhile investment.

Advertise on Kijiji

An increasingly popular classified ad site, Kijiji is a free option and is worth the time it will take to place your ad in the different city sections. Even if you just advertise in Toronto, Kitchener, London and Hamilton, you may well pick up enough interest to fill your weeks. These ads drop down the list as new ones are added, so you may need to update them.

Comment on relevant tourism blogs and forums

This is a bit of a hit-or-miss strategy but if you can find a blog or forum where people are commenting on vacations or even asking about availability, get in there and promote your own. There is a trick to doing this so your post is not seen as a blatant advertisement. Offer some good advice or helpful tips on vacationing in your area, then add the URL of your web site in your signature block. If you have offered useful information people will click through to your site.

Make sure your web site is being seen

If your web site is not being seen, you won't get interested renters. If you don't know where your visitors are coming from, or would like to find out what pages on your site are the most visited, get a free stats counter and start analysing the information. This tactic may not give you immediate results but it will sure open your eyes to the actual number of visitors you are getting and what their surfing behaviour is once they are on your site.

If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment. Don't forget to include your URL in the comment because other readers will click on it to take a look at your site. This is how social networking works and it may even bring you new rental guests.

Photo courtesy of dvs on Flickr

Bobby Carroll

Regarding the advice to add a bit of code to your site with Stat Counter, site owners can also sign up free for Google Analytics stats package. I use it and really like all the reports it provides.

Other sites to gain more bookings and eye balls on your rental property would be Craigslist (free), (about $175 a year) and (about $90 per year). I can’t personally attest to the two later sites and their effectiveness but I’ve used Craigslist here in the states and really like it.

Bobby Carroll’s last blog post..Wireless Web Most Requested Amenity for Hotel Guests

Heather Bayer

Thanks Bobby – that is good advice. I haven’t tried Craigslist yet, but may give it a go.

Jennifer Jilks

Another idea is to ensure that you have suitable keywords in your code.

If you look at page source (under ‘view’ in the toolbar) you will see that many pages have embedded code that leads Google and other search engines to your site.

An example from mine:

The more hits you get, the more likely the search engine will be to suggest your page. The more links from your site to other sites and vice versa, the more likely your page will come up, as well.

I have searched for a site I knew existed but what with 85 billion pages you can get lost in cyberspace. There are many cottagers who have decided to rent and web traffic can be directed to your site!

Bobby Carroll

Jennifer states “The more links from your site to other sites and vice versa, the more likely your page will come up, as well.”

One way links out and “do follow” links from authority sites to your blog or website are great. If you are referring to reciprocal links, I disagree. The days of reciprocal links are long past. Goggle wants to see do follow authority sites linking back to your blog or website. The higher the page rank and the closer to your central theme of your blog or website the better. Example, I link from my Active Rain profile to my blog but never from my blog to my Active Rain profile or any post I might write there. A word to the wise… avoid reciprocal links especially link farms, paid link farms and link exchanges. It’s a waste of time (IMHO) and could get your hand slapped by Goggle if they detect paid link exchanges. Just ask the Washington Post website back in the spring when they got busted by the “Goggle police” for buying links.

Bobby Carroll’s last blog post..Wireless Web Most Requested Amenity for Hotel Guests

Craigslist PVAs

Great information on this blog. Craigslist can be a goldmine if you have the right tools and knowledge.

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